One of the key success factors I have found in developing your leadership style is to be present.
By present, I don’t mean material gifts, like an apple for the teacher, but rather the gift of your attention. Presence is so critical to making members of a team feel appreciated, recognised and valued. I will even extend this beyond the workplace, into the home; with your partners, family and friends.
Let’s take the bad end of the stick to start with; have you ever approached your boss to ask for assistance or explain something critical and felt dismissed, unheard, or they don’t even look up from the task they are doing. How many times has a one-on-one meeting about your progress on a project been re-scheduled, when you’ve placed special time and effort in preparing a status. Have you ever shown up to a meeting room on time with no one else arriving until 15-20 minutes later, or when people walk out of the meeting conversation to answer a call on the mobile!? Ever gone in with a query that you really need their decision on, to have it returned to you as a wave of the hand and ‘just deal with it’ blinked away as they rush to their next appointment. Or in an extreme case, has your annual performance review been re-scheduled an hour before and made to be a low priority in their task list for the next month.
These are all examples of a lack of presence. And at times of an emergency, I agree they are warranted, but there are definitely many examples of where someone taking time to be focused and present with staff makes a world of difference to their leadership abilities, motivation and value your people will feel.
Ways to be a present leader
Let’s address some of ways to improve, often they are simple, here are a few:
– Keep to scheduled appointments, or let people know well in advance that they cannot be kept.
– Ask for an agenda or the purpose of the meetings, and prepare for them. Know why you are there and what value you can add – or don’t attend and be distracting by playing on your phone.
– Look people in the eye when you’re talking to them. Physically look away from your screen (computer, tablet, phone) and shift your body so it’s facing them, or stand to be at their level.
– Don’t shout instructions as you’re walking away and expect them to chase you down.
– Ask them for a moment, take a deep breath in and out, then let them know they have your attention.
– Consider your gestures; like rolling of the eyes, sighing at them, talking with your back to them, walking away, wave of the hand, and how you interrupt them for important tasks or information.
– Are you being congruent, if they respect your time and schedule appointments, do the same.
– Work on your listening skills, to hear not only the words but what is going on under the surface for people. Look at their expressions and language to pick up more than ‘reporting’.
Experiment a little…
Can you start to see how presence can be a key success factor in your leadership style?
What is one way you can be more present with those around you today?